July 25, 2023  —  Acronis

Fortifying Your Inbox: The Ultimate Guide to Email Security Best Practices

Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud
for Service Providers

What Is Email Security?

Email security is a process using a set of measures and techniques to protect email accounts from email based cyberattacks. Its function is to protect email servers and inboxes from takeover, protect sensitive information, stop phishing attacks, block malicious emails, filter spam emails, and use encryption to protect the email content from unauthorized access.

Security solutions and privacy for email were not built into the email system, when it was first invented, which made email inboxes a major attack vector for everyone from the average person to small or large organizations. As a critical safeguard, email security prevents unauthorized access, resulting in data breaches, and ensures the privacy of sensitive data and information being transmitted.

As the most commonly used method of communication, email is often exploited to spread malware and viruses, steal sensitive data, and manipulate people to reveal confidential personal information. Email security best practices help to terminate all these harmful attacks in their initial stages.

Evolving Email Threats

As all kinds of cyberattacks and enterprise email security threats are constantly evolving, there is a clear confirmation that malicious intent lies at the core of all email attacks. To help you stay protected and informed about evolving email threats, we will talk about the common types of email security threats and attacks.

Types of Email Attacks

Phishing: Attackers impersonate a legitimate organization to make the victim provide sensitive information. A common practice is using fake websites that collect login credentials or any personal or financial details.

Spear phishing: Is a targeted version of an attack that is focused on organizations or specific individuals, like the owners of a company, using personalized emails.

Social Engineering: Manipulating users into divulging sensitive information or taking actions that compromise security.

Ransomware: This is a type of malicious software that encrypt files or systems until a ransom is paid. For the payment, commonly are used cryptocurrencies, because they can not be tracked.

Malware: Is one of the most destructive and dangerous cyberattacks. This is a software designed to damage computer systems without the user's consent.

Account takeover: A sophisticated type of email attack, where attackers take over email accounts and inboxes from legitimate users and use them for criminal purposes, such as stealing information while monitoring the inbox, or using their email address to spread malicious links and software through their contacts.

Spoofing: Attackers pretend that the received email is from a trusted source by forging headers and tricking users to take immediate action and provide the requested information.

Identity theft: An attacker steals an individual's personal information about a current user and uses it for fraudulent purposes.

Business email compromise: BEC is a type of phishing attack that targets organizations with the goal of stealing money and important information.


Email Security Best Practices against phishing attacks.

Understanding these types of attacks, which we talked about in the previous section, empowers you to recognize email based threats and avoid them, keeping your emails and data safe. Using email security best practices keeps users, their data, and email secure and minimizes the risk of cyber criminals breaching your personal or corporate email networks. Let's have a look at these different email security best practices and how they can help prevent phishing attacks.

Train employees: Educate employees and security teams that make up an organization on email security best practices. Identifying any phishing attack and spoofing emails, such as how to create complex passwords, and how to avoid suspicious emails or links from unknown sources.

Ensure robust email security posture: One of the best practices relies on using robust email security solutions and postures that contain various layers of security measures including threat detection, regular antivirus software updates, and also reporting and control.

Integrating data protection measures: Prevent users from sending private information to external parties by implementing systems and policies of security measures, like prohibiting users from emailing certain types of data to unknown sources and emails.

Use email encryption: Encrypting email message content that should not be read by anyone except the interested recipients.

Update security solutions regularly: Make sure that you have enabled automatic updates for both the operating system and any additional antivirus software that you have. Keeping up to date your security solution measures is crucial to ensure their effectiveness against the latest aggressive cyber threats and phishing scams.

Use strong passwords

One of the best ways to ensure the security of your accounts is to use strong passwords. To accomplish that, the password must be at least 12 characters long and contain a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Another very important measure is not using any obvious personal information or common words in your password.

Manage Your Passwords Better

Passwords are the key to almost everything you do online, and probably everybody has multiple passwords for their online accounts to use throughout the day. Creating hard-to-hack passwords and managing them securely is the best way to secure all of your online accounts.

Doing so you will guarantee keeping hackers away or the possibility to gain access over your secure email account, profiles on social media, or online bank accounts, where they can steal your sensitive data or information. These seven steps will make your digital life more secure.

Never reveal your passwords to others. There is no reason to share your login credentials with someone. Nobody needs to know about them if you receive email messages requesting to provide your password or username, it's a scam.

Use different passwords for different accounts. Diversity in password selection is crucial when it comes to account security. Utilizing distinct passwords across multiple accounts guarantees an added layer of protection.

Use multi-factor authentication. In the event that one account encounters unauthorized access, the repercussions won't extend beyond just that account. Implementing multi-factor authentication is of equal importance when upholding security standards and compliance regulations as general data protection regulation. MFA provides supplementary verification alongside your username and password.

Complexity still counts. When creating passwords, it is important to keep in mind that incorporating complexity into passwords remains paramount. In that case, you must select a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters within your password to ensure that it is strong enough, and it is preferable to incorporate at least three of those components.

Use a password manager. To streamline the arduous task of password management, a password manager could prove instrumental and very effective. These tools provide an organized approach towards handling multiple passwords. They provide secure storage facilities and certain options, and they even offer backup along with synchronization across various systems. Which makes the password manager a very useful tool when facing any problems. Nevertheless, there are various free password managers that exist and are definitely worth trying.

Use encrypted connections

Encrypted connections are a vital part of ensuring that the data or attachments you send during transfers between devices and servers will be delivered safely, even if someone manages to intercept the signal. It is commonly used for inbound and outbound communications over the internet, and other communication paths.

Use two-factor authentication for your email accounts (2FA)

For the last decade, the security features have improved rapidly with constant updates and the implementation of new techniques to provide better security and comprehensive protection. One of the most useful upgrades is two-factor authentication, which represents a security system that requires two separate and distinct forms of multi-factor authentication in order to access user accounts.

The first and main factor is using a strong password, and the second includes a text message with a code that is sent to your personal devices. Another very secure factor is using biometrics like fingerprint recognition, face recognition, or retina recognition, these are the hardest factors to hack, and they ensure the best security for your personal accounts.

Experts advise that if we use only a password without two factor authentication, we should make our password as complex as possible. It is mandatory to have at least 18 characters in your password, including letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols, without including any obvious personal information or common words. By doing so, you will ensure the best protection for your accounts.

Be Aware of Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are one of the most common phishing attacks used worldwide. These days, everybody has received a malicious email at least once in their life, they often contain malicious links or malicious email attachments, which keep you one click away from getting infected with malicious software. This is when a cybercriminal has sent you an email, and are pretending to be someone else in the hope they will receive financial information or other sensitive data they have requested. If you provide the information they have asked for, that will cause serious problems like account identity theft. The best way to respond to this kind of attack is to block the malicious email.

Why Is Email Security Important?

We all know how important is the email communication for everyone, and how often we use this communication path on an everyday basis. Whether we communicate with our family, friends, coworkers, or clients of our business. A lot of people consider that email security is used only by business organizations and think they don't need taking additional email security solutions and steps or using email security tools.

Email Security Benefits

In our rapidly advancing digital realm, email has become an integral component of our daily lives, within enterprises particularly. It constitutes a fundamental mode of communication, however organizations must refrain from underestimating the importance of safeguarding sensitive information shared via emails. Failing to do so can result in severe detrimental effects on their personal or business operations.

Amidst the escalating risk landscape consisting of hackers' activities and infiltration with malicious intent, such as viruses or ransomware attacks. Alongside nuisances like spam or phishing; prioritizing and reinforcing email security measures represents a critical obligation for all businesses. So let's dive deeper and explore some of the most important email security benefits and best practices.

Control device access: It is paramount to exert control over device access in order to uphold robust email security measures. By carefully managing which devices have the ability to view sensitive email attachments, we can create a protective barrier on vulnerable unmanaged devices while permitting unfettered access on secure managed ones. This level of control guarantees that all content shared during an email conversation remains confidential and secure from unauthorized individuals or entities.

Improve spam and phishing protection: The assessment of outbound email messages plays a significant role in maintaining email security by detecting both known spam and potential threats. This control feature enables organizations to promptly identify instances of email account compromise or any other suspicious user behavior. To ensure utmost vigilance against such risks. It is crucial to employ an efficient email security platform that incorporates detection capabilities capable of alerting users involved with large volumes of outbound emails. Including bulk messaging activities and identifying such patterns could potentially reveal signs of compromise and necessitate further investigation.

Protection against zero-day email threats: Ensuring the security of emails holds a great significance in safeguarding an organization from potential zero-day threats. Primarily, these attacks are launched through malicious links or unauthorized attachments. In order to counteract a zero-day attack, it becomes imperative to have multiple layers of email protection that can effectively ward off malware, viruses, spam, as well as targeted attempts like phishing, spear phishing, whaling attacks, or breaking into corporate networks. By incorporating email security measures such as a Secure Email Gateway, organizations can mitigate the risk of these zero-day attacks by equipping themselves with anti-malware and anti-spam protection.

Stop ransomware attacks and threats: When organizations fall victim to ransomware attacks, their computer systems or sensitive data are accessed by cybercriminals, and their access to the data is blocked or encrypted by the attackers. In order for the organizations to regain access to their data, a ransom will have to be paid. Email is frequently used as the initial means of initiating these cyber attacks, therefore blocking malicious URLs and weaponized attachments proves to be the most effective method of preventing ransomware attacks. Implementing email security measures helps in detecting various threats such as spam, advanced malware, phishing attempts, and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks.

Email Security Policies

How Does an Email Security Policy Function? An email security policy operates similarly to other corporate IT policies, such as an acceptable use policy (AUP) or a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. Its purpose is to establish guidelines for the use of corporate email systems and outline the responsibilities of email users. Prior to being granted access to a corporate email account, users are required to read and sign the email policy, typically during the employee on-boarding process.

What is Included in an Email Security Policy? An email security policy should provide employees with the necessary information to use corporate email systems appropriately and securely. It is important for organizations to include the following information in their corporate email security policies:

Ownership: Emphasize that the company owns the email system and all communications made through it.

Privacy: Define employees' expectations of privacy while using the corporate email system.

Usage: Specify how employees are allowed to use the corporate email system, including whether incidental personal use is permitted.

Responsibilities: Describe employees' responsibilities while using the corporate email system, such as being vigilant against phishing attacks.

Restrictions: Clearly state what types of content are prohibited in corporate emails, such as offensive language, user credentials, or confidential data.

Consequences: Outline potential consequences for violating the policy, such as additional training, loss of email privileges, or termination.

Reporting: Clearly communicate how employees should report identified phishing attacks or policy violations.

Administrative Information: Provide details on when the policy will be updated and how long emails will be retained. To ensure that employees are aware of this important policy, it should be signed by them during the on-boarding process. Additionally, it should be easily accessible on the corporate Intranet or a similar platform so that employees can refer to it whenever they need guidance on using the email system or identifying potential phishing emails.

Types of email security services protecting your sensitive data

Spam filters: A significant portion of emails received by businesses are marketing emails. These emails can fill up inboxes to the point where important, necessary, and even official emails are overlooked. In addition, cybercriminals utilize these marketing messages to distribute phishing emails. Users who aren't aware often open these harmful emails and click on unsafe links within the harmful content and attachments.

This can result in various issues, ranging from compromising company bank accounts to locking down systems with ransomware. By installing advanced spam filters, it is possible to separate marketing emails from phishing messages by directing them to a dedicated inbox specifically designed for them. A crucial tool for email security is the ability to schedule spam deletion without ever having to open the emails. This eliminates any potential risks associated with dangerous interactions.

Antivirus software: Antivirus protection can be invaluable in protecting a company's network from harmful emails and potential malware. While spam filters do their best to identify and delete spam messages, it can take time for this process to occur. During this time, the risk remains that a user may unknowingly open a malicious email and interact with its harmful attachment.

By clicking on a link within the email, they could inadvertently download dangerous malware onto their device, which could then spread throughout the entire company network. To mitigate this risk the antivirus software is crucial. This type of program has an anti domainkeys identified mail sender policy framework that scans both incoming and outgoing emails for any harmful content, and prevents it from either entering or leaving the device. By adding an additional layer of defense beyond spam filters, it significantly reduces the chance of undetected viruses infiltrating the company's network.

How can I improve email security?

Another way to improve email security is by using the sender policy framework. It represents an essential facet of email cybersecurity measures and serves as an effective tool against phishing attacks.

Its primary purpose is to facilitate email authentication while offering protection against unauthorized use of sender information. By enabling organizations to specify legitimate sources responsible for sending emails on behalf of their domain. It aids in preventing fraudulent activities like impersonation attempts by attackers who often disguise themselves as trustworthy entities, such as reputable businesses or acquaintances of potential victims.

Advanced Email Security - Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud

Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is the most complete and reliable cyber protection for you, and your organization. It implements the best backup, recovery, and advanced email security, enhanced with essential endpoint protection capability, and a security management toolkit for centralized administration and monitoring. We aim to provide the utmost protection to our clients against contemporary cyber threats. To ensure this, our esteemed anti-ransomware technology, which has received recognition through several prestigious awards, now comes with an added advantage of AI based static and behavioral anti-malware analysis. This advanced feature is specifically designed to combat zero-day threats, making our defense even more robust and resilient.

Furthermore, Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud offers the best backup and flexible storage options. Another key function is identifying and closing the security gaps in your clients systems. Where you can scan clients machines for vulnerabilities to ensure that all the applications, and operating systems are up-to-date. We know how important it is to have a close view of the monitoring and reporting features, because by simplifying and condensing your reports, you can effectively streamline your operations and provide your technicians with the necessary information to assist your clients.

With the ability to customize your dashboard's widgets, you have access to a diverse array of reports, allowing you to swiftly identify and address any issues that may arise. Another key aspect is secure file sync and sharing, so we strive to enhance client productivity by providing convenient and secure file sync, and sharing capabilities. With our services, users can confidently create, edit, and share content using their personal devices. You can also rely on our optimal administrative efficiency to effortlessly create client or partner accounts in seconds. Additionally, our platform allows you to easily customize unique offerings and efficiently manage quotas, features, and administrative privileges through vertical grouping.

Furthermore, our cloud storage provides users with the ability to securely store their data and files in a remote location. Access to this stored information can be achieved through either the public internet or a dedicated private network connection. All these key factors are combined to ensure and provide the most complete and secure cyber protection software on the market. As market leaders, we are obligated to provide our clients with everything they need at anytime and in any circumstances.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.